By Tim Nash
The difference between first and second place in an event like the American Cup is expected to be small. But one one-thousandth of a point? That’s .001.
“That’s literally crazy,” said Yul Moldauer, the owner of the extra thousandth of a point. Moldauer, the 2018 American Cup champion, scored 85.932 over six rotations to defeat fellow American Sam Mikulak’s 85.931.
Moldauer, a 22-year-old senior at Oklahoma University, came to the American Cup hoping to test himself against some of the top gymnasts in the world. He certainly passed that test, defeating elite gymnasts from China, Ukraine, Great Britain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and one of his own U.S. teammates Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum.
“I just wanted to go out and prove that I can hit my routines and be competitive world-wide,” he said.
Moldauer and Mikulak posted the best scores in five of the six rotations. Mikulak won the floor, pommel horse and high bar, while Moldauer took the top spot in the vault and parallel bars.
The race for first- and second-place between Moldauer and Mikulak started early, and the two Americans flopped places frequently. But the parallel bars was where Moldauer built the cushion that allowed him to barely edge by Mikulak.
Moldauer went fourth of the seventh competitors and posted a 14.966, the highest score recorded Saturday. Mikulak, performing sixth, was given 14.066.
“I got into some grip issues on the p-bar that me and my coach have to work through over the next few weeks,” said Mikulak. “On the high bar, I just have to do one skill better and we’ll be right there.”
Both Moldauer and Mikulak knew it was going to be tight at the end, but the fun started after the parallel bars.
“I had no idea we were that close,” said Moldauer. “When Sam hit his high bar, I was like, ‘Well, he’s definitely got it. I just need to hit my routines and finish out.’”
Mikulak scored 14.166 on the high bar, but Moldauer came back with a 13.733 which turned out to be just enough to take the title.
“Honestly, he performed way better than I did,” Mikulak said. “He deserved to win. Today wasn’t a day that I felt I deserved to win.”
Moldauer was not surprised at Mikulak’s comments.
“That’s because he is such a nice guy,” he said. “His gymnastics are world class and it’s an honor to be on the same team with him.”
Ma Yue finished third behind the two Americans with an all-around around score of 84.465.